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A U G U S T

I can’t remember the last time a July really felt like a summer to me.  I’m still adjusting to having weekends off, so each one still feels like a sort of mini-vacation.  We’ve spent a lot of time with family, which means special meals together and field trips to fun places we don’t normally visit.  We also managed to take a vacation to Maine, and nothing really feels more like summery like a trip to the beach.  Here’s a few highlights from the past month. 

T H E   E D I T

Some unglamorous (but practical) travel must-haves: 

Most of the time, my monthly shopping list features a lot of thoughtfully-designed, bespoke pieces.  This month it is a little more basic, just a few practical items for travel.  

I always travel as light, because it is so much easier.  I’d rather repeat outfits than check a bag.  I like to be prepared (I always travel with a towel, you might need an extra one!  Plus, Turkish Towels can serve other purposes, are easy to pack, and dry quickly).  I never assume anything will be provided. I try to bring just the basics and plan ahead to do without.  

I started packing sample packets of shampoo and conditioner instead of little plastic bottles.  I usually have some on hand from my Sephora free sample stash, they are available on Amazon.  This is great because as you use them, they take up less room.  Also, a little sachet of shampoo takes up a lot less room than a mini bottle. 

I stay organized while packing by partitioning everything into little baggies.  I bought this set off Amazon and use it to sort my cables, beauty products, and other miscellaneous small items.  I even used the largest bag to separate dirty clothes.  These packing cubes from Muji also help keep my suitcase organized.  I only ever travel with a very small, hard-sided, four-wheel spinner

A few nice-t0-haves: I like carrying this S’well water bottle with me on trips because it is my only bottle that reliably fits in all sorts of pockets and cup holders.  It also keeps things hot or cold very well.  I pack it empty and fill it up with water at the airport.  Even though I have an iPhone with a very nice camera, I still pack a “real” camera.  I recently (after a lot of research) picked up a Sony Alpha A6000.  This model is a few years old, but takes great pictures and is very comfortable to hold and shoot with.  I like that it charges in a standard USB port, so I don’t have to bring another charger.  While traveling, I charge almost exclusively off of an external battery.  This one from Anker can last me for several days and charge two things at a time.  And finally, I always travel with a little notebook and pens because I really like to put pen to paper when jotting down any thoughts or notes.  


 

Field Notes Notebook, Sony Alpha A6000, S'well Bottle, Anker Portable Battery, Shampoo Packets, Travel Pouches, Muji Garment organizer, Turkish towel, Small Suitcase 

B O O K   C L U B 

Tenth of December - George Saunders

George Saunders got a lot of press last year for winning the Man Booker Prize for Lincoln in the Bardo and I didn’t read it because I do not like historical fiction about specific people, but I was curious to read something by him.  On a recommendation, I picked up his short story collection, Tenth of December.  I’m in the middle of this collection and I really like all the stories.  So far a theme I’ve seen in the stories is the intersection of different people during a conflict.  A few of the stories have been published in The New Yorker, including the first story in the collection, Victory Lap.  

 

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler - Italo Calvino 

I picked up this book off Rob’s shelf with the intention of reading it on vacation, but Rob started reading it, so I’ll have to wait for him to finish it.  The book is addressed to the reader with chapters that nest to intertwine the reader and characters. 

 

F I E L D   T R I P

Maine 

Last weekend, Rob and I took a vacation up to Maine with his family.  Maine is breathtaking - the smell of the piney air and rocky beaches that felt warm and welcoming in the heat.  I love the city of Portland because it has a bourgeoning food scene and thriving artistic community.  It’s a place I’m never ready to leave because it seems like there is always something new to discover.  These were some of my favorite places - I can’t wait to go back and discover more.  




Tandem Coffee 


Tandem Coffee was featured in
Bon Appetit a few years ago for their approach not only to coffee but also to their pastry case.  The café features the creations of Briana Holt, things like cinnamon rolls, biscuits, pie and breakfast sandwiches.  I didn’t get to eating from the bakery this time, but I did pick up a bag of coffee to brew at home.  You can do the same by ordering it off their website.  

Washington Avenue

Washington Avenue is off the main drag in Portland, but it is an up and coming area featuring some real gems.  We stopped for oysters from The Shop and grabbed kombucha on tap at Root Wild.  Down the street, there is a tiny row of shops all housed in shipping containers.  Called “The Black Box,” this is a retail space incubator that is designed to give shop owners a space to test out their ideas. I picked up a simple and delicate pair of earrings from MULXIPLY.  





I N   T H E   K I T C H E N



Ice Cream 

I have mentioned this before, but recently Rob bought me an ice cream maker for my birthday.  I've been curious about making ice cream at home for awhile, but it was kind of intimidating to me and I hate buying kitchen uni-taskers.  So far, the ice cream maker has earned its precious real estate in our tiny kitchen.  Ice cream is made from really simple, inexpensive ingredients - milk, cream, eggs, sugar, so churning out a batch is really only as expensive as how you flavor it.  The only difficult part of making it is being patient while everything cools.  

Before making ice cream for the first time, I consulted some of my favorite sources: David Lebovitz, Cooks’ Illustrated and The New York Times cooking section.  What I’ve learned is that ice cream is all about texture, and achieving a smooth creamy texture is all about balancing fat and the freezing process.  I love making French-style ice cream with a custard base because fatty egg yolks help achieve the smooth texture.  I also like the flavor and color they add.  While cooking the egg yolks can be a delicate process, it’s made easy with use of an instant-read thermometer.  

So far we have made three flavors this summer: vanilla, mint chocolate chip, and coffee chocolate chip.  Here is the recipe we use for a base, which can be easily flavored by either infusing the milk before making the custard or mixing in another ingredient.  

 

French-Style Ice Cream Base 

1 1/2 cup whole milk 
1 1/2 cup heavy cream 
3/4 cup sugar (divided) 
4 egg yolks (large)

Start by setting up a few things in advance: make an ice bath in a large bowl and place a medium bowl inside of it.  This will be used to cool down the cooked custard base.  Stick it in the fridge until ready to use.   Whisking together milk, cream, and 1/2 cup of sugar in a medium-sized pot over a gentle heat until the milk is 175 degrees. Remove from heat.  While the milk is heating up, whisk egg yolks with remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until pale in color.  Once the milk has been warmed, temper the yolks by streaming in about 1/3 cup of milk slowly.  This will bring the eggs up to temperature without cooking them.  If this process is new, start with a smaller amount of milk at a time and add more.  Add another 1/3 of a cup (again, slowly).  Add the mixture back into the pot with milk and return it to a medium-low heat.  Constantly stir the mixture.  Once the temperature registers between 180 - 185 degrees, strain it into the bowl in the ice bath.  Keep stirring to bring the temperature down to about room temp.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the temperature is below 40 degrees.  I usually just make the base the day before I want to make the ice cream so I can ensure it will have enough time to cool.  

Once the ice cream base has cooled, it can be prepared according to the directions on the ice cream machine, for us this means churning it in a bowl (that has been for at least 24 hours… we just store it in the freezer so it is always ready) for about 20 minutes and then freezing for a few hours to harden.  I love pouring in melted chocolate during the last few minutes of churning to dot the ice cream with tiny flecks of chocolate.   
 

Helpful Tools: 


Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop, Instant Read Thermometer 

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